Genomic Medicine Institute News: 2008

December 5, 2008
Charis Eng, MD, PhD presents at the 7th Dr. Roizen Cleveland Clinic Integrative Medicine and Wellness Summit, Chicago, IL
Charis Eng, MD, PhD, Hardis Chair, GMI presented an invited plenary lecture entitled, “Genetics and genomic medicine in healthcare: are we ready for prime time?” at Cleveland Clinic’s Integrative Medicine and Wellness Summit. She outlined the current state-of-the-art use of genetics in guiding and changing medical management in everyday healthcare. Attention was also drawn to the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) and its broad protections for genetic information.

November 27, 2008
WKYC highlights goals of Genomic Medicine Institute on Family Health History Day.
On Thanksgiving day, during its 6:00 and 7:00 pm broadcasts, NBC local WKYC highlighted the Genomic Medicine Institute in the context of Family Health Histor Day. Dr. Charis Eng, Chair, GMI, shared her vision to incorporate genetics knowledge into all aspects of health care and wellness throughout the Cleveland Clinic. A GMI patient, Susan Drees also shared her experience receiving clinical genetics care which included genetic counseling by Shanna Gustafson, MS, CGC, GMI. Dr. Eng also outlined the importance of genetics and genomic medicine research, which is the foundation for good personalized genetic healthcare.

A summary of this story can be found at

October 01, 2008
After a PBS Documentary on Genetic Counseling & Testing, a Cleveland Clinic Genetics Counselor Will Monitor Message Board

Watch the documentary, In the Family, on PBS, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 10:00-11:00 p.m. It tells the story of a Chicago filmmaker who pursues genetic counseling and testing because of a family history of cancer. The next afternoon, Oct. 2, from 2-6 p.m., Cheryl Scacheri, MS, CGC, Director, Genomics Education and Policy, Center for Personalized Genetic Healthcare, and also a genetics counselor at the center, will monitor the PBS online message board for the program.

Sept., 2008
Dr. Eng Publishes Her 300th Original Peer Reviewed Article
Charis Eng, MD, PhD, Sondra J and Stephen R Hardis Endowed Chair of Cancer Genomic Medicine and Chair, GMI, published her very first research paper in 1982 as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago when she completed her honors thesis project on the genetics of Ustilago violacea (now Microbotryum violaceum) with her late mentor of 25 years, Edward D. Garber, PhD. She continued to publish her original genetics research findings as a PhD student, and after a hiatus for her medicine residency and medical oncology clinical fellowship, as a postdoctoral fellow. After 12 years as an independent investigator whose focus is clinical and translational human cancer genetics and genomics, she recently published her 300th original peer reviewed research article. She attributes her productivity to multidisciplinary teamwork involving many members of her lab, past and present, and members of her clinical team, as well as multiple collaborators throughout the country and the world.

Aug. 14-16, 2008
Dr. Eng Discusses “How to Outsmart Your Genes” at Access Circles’ Aspen Health and Wellness Forum
Charis Eng, MD, PhD, Chair, GMI led a provocative discussion on the latest scientific advances and industrial efforts in the field of genetic and genomic medicine. She highlighted how personalized healthcare based on genetic and genomic information promises intimate knowledge of our genes with consequent proactive strategies to prevent disease and help ensure graceful aging. She also discussed how genetic and genomic knowledge fulfills the adage “Knowledge is Power” in empowering us to promote our own and our families’ health and well-being. She also introduced to the Forum a newly enacted law, GINA (“Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act”), which protects against health insurance companies and employers using genetic information to discriminate against individuals or families.

Aug 8, 2008
Two New Predisposition Genes For Breast, Thyroid And Kidney Cancers Could Lead to More Accurate Diagnosis and Earlier Detection of These Cancers
Charis Eng, MD, PhD, Sondra J and Stephen R Hardis Endowed Chair of Cancer Genomic Medicine and Chair, GMI, and her team published in the Aug 8, 2008 issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics that germline mutations in SDHB and SDHD, which play key roles in the mitochondria (the cell’s power houses), predispose to Cowden and Cowden-like syndromes. These syndromes carry a high risk of breast, thyroid and/or kidney cancers. In 1997, Dr. Eng, leading the International Cowden Consortium, discovered that germline mutations in a tumor suppressor gene called PTEN predispose to Cowden syndrome, but not everyone with this syndrome can be found to have altered PTEN. This new paper reports that SDHB and SDHD can be altered in subsets of individuals and families with Cowden or Cowden-like syndromes without PTEN alterations. These observations are being translated to routine clinical use for gene-based diagnosis, cancer risk assessment and predictive testing that will allow for early detection and/or prevention of cancer. Click here for article at

Aug 1, 2008
Personalized Medicine Coalition Names GMI the Featured Member of the Month for August, 2008
The Personalized Medicine Coalition is an international organization, representing a broad spectrum of academic, industrial, patient, provider and payer communities, which seeks to understand and promote personalized medicine concepts and products for the benefit of patients. Each month, PMC features an exemplary member, and GMI was selected for August, 2008. Charis Eng, MD, PhD, Chair, GMI, is the Chair of the PMC’s Clinical Science Committee, and Emily Edelman, MS, CGC, Genomic Counselor, GMI, is a member of this committee. Cheryl Scacheri, MS, CGC, Director of Genomics Policy, GMI, is a member of PMC’s Public Policy Committee.


"Genetics in Health and Disease" event opens the doors for genetic education
The Genomic Medicine Institute and Education Institute at Cleveland Clinic
launched an innovative education campaign on August 1, 2008. Cleveland Clinic President and CEO, Dr. Toby Cosgrove, opened the symposium by expressing his support for this unprecedented education initiative. Over two hundred attendees from Cleveland Clinic's Health System attended the three-hour event which featured CCF physicians from multiple institutes who are presently using genetics to guide patient care. Talks given by Drs. Charis Eng, Holly Smedira, Roy Greenberg and Matt Kalady conveyed a common message about the importance of family history.  Distinguished guest speaker, Dr. Aravinda Chakravarti, Director of the Center for Complex Genomics at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the current President of the American Society of Human Genetics reiterated the importance of genetics in the future of healthcare.

July 1, 2008
Dr. Aldred Wins Her First Extramural Funding from the American Heart Association
Micheala A. Aldred, PhD, Assistant Staff, GMI was awarded a four-year Scientist Development Grant from the American Heart Association to study the “Genetic characterization of CD133+ CD34+ progenitor cells in pulmonary arterial hypertension.”

Seed Money for Translational Pilot Projects
Charis Eng, MD, PhD, Chair, Genomic Medicine Institute, advises all faculty that the Cleveland Clinical and Translational Sciences Collaborative (CTSC) and the School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, will provide seed money to faculty in multidisciplinary programs for Pilot Projects that will lead to effi cient use of resources
and support of inter-institutional, clinical translational research in the City of Cleveland.
Investigators in the basic science and clinical departments in the School of Medicine and the CTSC-affi liated institutions as well as in other departments in the University are eligible. CTSC Pilot Project grant program applications are due on July 15th. Details of the RFA can be found at

GMI/Education Kick Off “Genetics in Health and Disease” Education Campaign
President Bush recently signed into law the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). As reported by JAMA [2008;299(21):2493], this law is meant to protect people from discrimination by employers or health insurance companies based on genetic conditions. At Cleveland Clinic, Delos Cosgrove, MD, CEO, with the Genomic Medicine Institute and the Education Institute, will inaugurate a Cleveland Clinic-wide genetics education campaign to highlight the role of genes in health on August 1, 2008, at 7:30 A.M. in Bunts Auditorium. Among the speakers will be Dr. Aravinda Chakravarti (President of the American Society of Human Genetics) and Cleveland Clinic Staff Charis Eng, MD, PhD, Chair, Genomic Medicine Institute and Director, Center for Personalized Healthcare. All are welcome to attend. For more information, contact Cheryl Scacheri, M.S., C.G.C. (x. 4-6418;

May 27, 2008
Breast Cancer Support Group

Kate Lynch, M.S., C.G.C. spoke on “Hereditary Breast Cancer: Are You at Risk?” at the Fairview Hospital Breast Cancer Support Group at Fairview Hospital. Taussig Cancer Center Oncology Nursing Grand Rounds: She also recently presented a talk on “Cancer Genetics Case Studies” at the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Center Oncology Nursing Grand Rounds.

On May 22, 2008
Mount Vernon Middle School Career Day

Rebecca Mitchell, M.S.N., C.N.S. spoke to approximately 250 students, teachers and community members about various career opportunities available in the genetic research community, including nursing, advanced practice nursing, bioinformatics, genetic counseling and translational research. Along with the discussion, the participants had the opportunity to precipitate DNA.

May 20, 2008
Wine and Health
Charis Eng, MD, PhD was recently the invited speaker for the Access Circles event at The Modern, New York City. Her talk was entitled, “Wine and Health: Genetics of Wine Grape Varietals and Genetics of Cancer and Prevention.”

May 13, 2008
Charis Eng, MD, PhD delivers invited lecture at Hewlett-Packard Symposium
Charis Eng, MD, PhD, Chair, Genomic Medicine Institute delivered an invited lecture entitled, "Infrastructure for Translational Genomic Medicine" at the Hewlett-Packard Symposium, Orlando, May 12-14, 2008. Her lecture was sponsored by the Personalized Medicine Coalition, of which she chairs the Clinical Science Committee.

May 7, 2008
Two GMI Staff Honored with 2008 Lerner Research Institute Awards of Excellence
Charis Eng, MD, PhD received the Lerner Research Institute Award of Excellence in Science for outstanding contributions to the genomics of solid tumor microenvironment and clinical outcome. She delivered the award lecture entitled, "Genomic analysis of the solid tumor microenvironment and clinical outcome." Marvin Natowicz, MD, PhD received the LRI Award of Excellence in Education for contributions to the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine.

May 5, 2008
Neurofi bromatosis: A 21st Century Perspective

GMI members Vickie Zurcher, MD, Allison Schreiber, M.S., C.G.C., and Rebecca Mitchell, M.S.N., C.N.S., participated in the parent and patient oriented Health Talk sponsored by the Cleveland Clinic Neurofi bromatosis Clinic and the Children’s Tumor Foundation on . Dr. Zurcher spoke on “The Genetics of Neurofibromatosis 1 and 2” and the three interacted with the participants during a breakout session.

April 25, 2008
Two GMI Trainees Receive AAAS Awards
Kristi Bennett, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow (Eng Lab), and Ying Ni, MS, HHMI Predoctoral Fellow (Eng lab), have been awarded entry into the AAAS/Excellence in Science Program. This award, sponsored by AAAS, is given to highly deserving graduate students and postdoctoral trainees who work in life-sciences research laboratories. As part of the award, each trainee is given a one-year free subscription to Science. GMI's 2007 AAAS/Excellence in Science Program Awardees were Judith Hobert, PhD (postdoctoral trainee category) and William A. Flavahan, BSBE (predoctoral trainee), both of the Eng lab.

April 23, 2008
2008 State of the Genomic Medicine Institute Address
Charis Eng, M.D., Ph.D. presented the State of the GMI to the department, their adjunct faculty, members of LRI and CCF, and members of the GMI’s External Advisory Board for Business and Development Efforts. The presentation highlighted GMI’s accomplishments of 2007 and the goals for 2008.  The presentation is available for viewing here (PDF file).

April 18, 2008
Charis Eng, MD, PhD Delivers Lecture at the 18th Annual Symposium of the
Society of Black Academic Surgeons
Charis Eng, MD, PhD
, Sondra J and Stephen R Hardis Chair and Director,
Genomic Medicine Institute, delivered the opening scientific lecture
entitled, "Genetics- and genomics-based surgical decision-making" to the
18th Annual Symposium of the Society of Black Academic Surgeons, hosted by
the Cleveland Clinic, April 17-20, 2008. Coordinated by the Office of Professional Staff Affairs and the Office of Diversity at Cleveland Clinic, the goal of this year's program was to disseminate knowledge about recent advances in basic science and clinical
research, as well as innovations in the care of the surgical patient.

The Society of Black Academic Surgeons is an academic group committed to
stimulate academic excellence among its members. This group encourages and
supports professional development of black surgical residents and faculty
and attempts to recruit the best medical students into surgical careers.

April 17, 2008
Mohammed Orloff, PhD Participated in a Panel Discussion at the Aspiring
Physicians and Research Scientists Conference
Dr. Mohammed Orloff
, Project Staff, Genomic Medicine Institute, was part of
a panel of scientists and physicians who fielded questions and discussed
their own careers in discovery and innovation as part of a Panel at the
Aspiring Physicians and Research Scientists Conference.

Hosted by the Office of Diversity at the Cleveland Clinic, this conference
is for Black and Hispanic junior and senior mathematics, science and
pre-medical majors from Historically Black Colleges and Universities as well
as Ohio colleges and universities. The purpose of the discussion is to talk
about innovation at the Cleveland Clinic and the various opportunities for
students who are interested in pursuing a career as a physician and/or
research scientist.


April 10, 2008
GMI present at the Cleveland Clinic's 6th Annual Minority Men's Health Fair
The Minority Men’s Health Center hosted the 6th Annual Minority Men's Health Fair in the Crile building. Attendees received a variety of free health screenings including prostate cancer, blood pressure, glaucoma, cholesterol, sickle cell, diabetes, oral cancer and many others. The Genomic Medicine institute was on site once again to share information about the concept of wellness through genetics. "Our mission of educating the community about genetics is strengthened with events such as these," said Dawn Caraballo, Research Program Coordinator at GMI. Two genetic counselor students from The Case genetic counseling training program, a collaborative program between GMI and Case, also provided valuable assistance in this event.

April 09, 2008
GPGH genetic counselor, Katie Hoffman did a radio interview on WERE AM 1300 for
the Minority Men's Health Fair on Thursday April 10th. She spoke about the importance of obtaining a family health history, gave pointers for talking with family about health and disease, and what family health history can tell you about risk for common disease (diabetes, hypertension, heart disease). Katie was invited by Dr. Charles Modlin.


April 03, 2008
Lerner Research Institute honors stellar performers from GMI.
At a recent LRI event, two employees of GMI were honored by receiving the coveted STAR award. The STAR Award, presented here by Dr Paul Dicorleto, Chairman of LRI, recognizes individuals who have taken special initiative to help others and enrich the workplace by the quality of their service. Recipients are nominated by their peers and managers. Patty Pritchard, Patient Service Representative, represented GMI by walking away with special recognition for outstanding patient care and Rebecca Mitchell, MSN, RN earned her award for extraordinary efforts in the area of employee wellness. Past STAR award winners from the GMI include Dawn Caraballo, Peter Balint and Janice Blount.

April 2, 2008
Dr. Charis Eng Named to Chair the Clinical Science Committee of the Personalized Medicine Coalition
Charis Eng, MD, PhD, Sondra J and Stephen R Hardis Chair and Director of the Genomic Medicine Institute, and Director of its Center for Personalized Genetic Healthcare, was selected to chair the Clinical Science Committee of the Personalized Medicine Coalition (PMC). Personalized medicine uses emerging technology, methods and data to aid a patient and his/her physician in healthcare management that will result in the best outcome tailored to the patient’s profile, including genetic and environmental factors. This newly restructured committee will aid the PMC in advancing the era of personalized medicine, specifically by critically evaluating emerging applications of science and technology to patient care for risk assessment, therapy and prevention. President and Chairman of the PMC, Wayne Rosenkrans, Jr., PhD says that he looks “forward to the leadership that Dr. Eng would provide to help unify and direct critical work across the United Sates and the world in personalized medicine.”
See the Spring, 2008 PMC Newsletter here.

March 26, 2008
Journal of the American Medical Association: Two identical copies of genetic regions may predispose to common cancers
We have long known that variety is a “good thing” or as the ancient adage goes, “Variety is the spice of life.” Farmers use different varietals in plants to assure crop abundance. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables maintains ones good health. Recently, research led by Charis Eng, M.D., Ph.D., Chair of Cleveland Clinic’s Genomic Medicine Institute and published in the March 26 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (, suggests genetic variety may be associated with decreased cancer risk. The research involved the analysis of DNA obtained from 385 patients with breast (147 patients), prostate (116 patients) or head and neck cancers (122 patients) and was confirmed in 205 patients with lung caner.

The research team found that individuals who inherit two identical copies of certain genes (homozygousity), one from each parent, had a higher risk of developing common cancers, compared to individuals who inherited a different copy from each parent (heterozygousity). They found 16 loci, or chromosomal regions, where the frequency of homozygosity, or lack of genetic variety was significantly elevated compared with controls. These loci were common to all 4 of the cancer types examined. These data suggest that genetic variety may be protective for cancer development.

“The findings were surprising,” Dr. Eng said. “They suggest that the lack of diversity among chromosomal markers is a genetic weakness that predisposes individuals to developing many common cancers.”

It is not clear how or why this lack of variety/diversity predisposes an individual to certain common cancers. However, further work will examine potential reasons. Additionally, the researchers plan to examine whether other types of cancer also contain a lack of genetic diversity, to further aid in the understanding of the hereditary causes of cancer.

If future, large-scale studies replicate these findings then genetic testing based on these results can serve as a tool for assessing an individual’s risk for developing certain types of cancer, Dr. Eng said. This would provide for more comprehensive genetic testing beyond the traditional genetic testing currently offered.

The research was supported by the National Cancer Institute, the Department of Defense Prostate Cancer Research Program, the Fondation de France, and the Fédération Nationale des Centres de Lutte contre le Cancer.

See: Reuters , Washington Post Healthday and US News and World Report

February 12, 2008
$1.5 Million Gift Allows LRI to Create an Endowed Chair in Cancer Genomics Research; Dr. Charis Eng is First Chair Holder

Sondra and Stephen Hardis - who have lost several friends and a close family member to cancer - have committed $1.5 million to establish an endowed chair within Lerner Research Institute (LRI) to further cancer genomics research. Charis Eng, MD, PhD, Chair of LRI's Genomic Medicine Institute, will serve as the inaugural chair holder.

“We are making tremendous strides every day in understanding the genomic basis of cancer and hope to develop the most accurate markers for the earliest diagnoses so that preemptive strikes can be made even before the cancer has started,” Dr. Eng said. “This gift will further our mission and provide us with the resources we need to continue our work.”

This is the second endowed chair the Hardis family has created. In 2003, the couple contributed $1.5 million to establish an endowed chair in oncology research in Cleveland Clinic’s Taussig Cancer Institute.

Stephen is a trustee of the Cleveland Clinic. He serves on the boards of Axcelis Technologies Inc., Nordson Corp., Progressive Corp., Lexmark International Inc., American Greetings Corp., and Marsh and McLennan Companies Inc. In 2001, he was given the Business Statesman Award from the Harvard Business School Club of Northeastern Ohio. Sondra Hardis is an emerita trustee for Ideastream and the Cleveland Free Clinic. She also is co-chair of the Lerner Research Institute Leadership Board.

February 01, 2008
Dr. Bin Zhang, PhD awarded prestigious Basil O'Connor Starter Scholar
Research Award from March of Dimes

The March of Dimes Foundation has awarded Bin Zhang, PhD, Assistant Staff, GMI, a Basil O'Connor Starter Scholar Award for his proposed work entitled, " Receptor-Mediated ER-to-Golgi Transport of Coagulation Factors V and VIII: Deficiencies in the Early Secretory Pathway as Pathogenic Mechanisms of Congenital Disorders." This 2-year grant seeks to understand the underlying causes of inherited bleeding/clotting diseases.

January 27, 2008
Ross Waite, Manager of the GMI Biorepository and Ron Rerko, Manager of GMI Translational Affairs, provided tours of the Genomic Medicine Institute to students of the MD Project Charles R. Drew Saturday Academy. The Cleveland Clinic Office of Diversity, in collaboration with the Office of Civic Education Initiatives and Health Legacy of Cleveland, is sponsoring the Saturday Academy to increase the number of African American and Hispanic physicians, scientists and physician leaders. The program supports high school students in the development of the critical skills necessary for a career in health care. The hands-on tour was a valuable insight into the world of genetic and genomic translational research.

January 25, 2008
Dr. Eng Awarded Two New Grants from the National Cancer Institute
Charis Eng, MD, PhD, Chair of the Genomic Medicine Institute, has received two new grants from the National Cancer Institute.

The first is a 5-year R01 award entitled, "PTEN nuclear-cytoplasmic localization in breast carcinogenesis" which seeks to understand a novel hypothesis looking to relate the location of the tumor suppressor PTEN in a breast cell with the development and progression of breast cancer. Kristin A. Waite, PhD and Jun Peng, PhD, both Project Scientists in the Eng lab, are co-investigators on this award.

The second grant is a 5-year program project grant (P01) entitled, "Genetic and signaling pathways in epithelial thyroid cancer." Dr. Eng's project within this P01 grant is entitled, "Genetic alterations that initiate follicular thyroid carcinogenesis", which seeks to understand and compare thyroid cancers that develop due to an inherited predisposition for the cancer versus those that develop sporadically. Co-investigators on this grant include Kristin A. Waite, PhD and Mohammed Orloff, PhD, both Project Scientists in the Eng lab.